Return of the Blog and a 2022 retrospective

Honestly, this wasn’t a new year’s resolution! Whilst working on my yearly update of the website over the past day or two, I impulsively decided to start writing on my blog again – not because I think anyone is particularly hankering to see it return, but because in a strange, journaling kind of way it was probably good for me to write down some of my thoughts, whether they were music-related or not. Even if it was just when I produced a new release, it’s a place I can jot down some of the things running through my head during the process, somewhere I can look back on my previous work and answer the question: what the hell was I thinking?

First off – happy new year! I hope that 2023 is defined by its lighter, lovelier moments for you, wherever you are and whatever you might be going through.

Secondly, a quick look back at the year just gone. Though my last post here is, rather shamefully, from 2019, it’s not because I’ve had nothing to do. In 2022 a few firsts happened:

  • I started scoring my first feature length film! It’s called ‘Every Legend Ends’ and is being directed by long time collaborator Ryan Garry whose motion capture work you might have seen most recently on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. At the time of writing VFX and other post-production is ongoing, so expect updates some time this year.
  • My band Neverbody released our first single & music video ‘First Light’ – in fact this is the first ‘proper’ music video I’ve ever released as part of a band project. It was handmade and hand-animated by excellent Scottish visual artist Laura Sparkgive it a watch here.
  • Speaking of bands, in 2022 I became the producer for a band that I wasn’t also a member of for the first time. Good friends of mine and metalheads Inhabit asked me to help produce their first album and we’re about halfway through the process so far, with the results sounding like a mix of punk and nu-metal at the moment – stay tuned!
  • Finally, I composed my first video game score since 2019 – working with a community of modders for Company of Heroes called Waste of Space who are building a revamp of the popular WW2 RTS that brings the Royal Hungarian Army to life. The score mixes the wartime orchestral flair you’d expect with some traditional Hungarian and Russian influences you might not – download it on Bandcamp.

In many ways I’m happy to be able to count these ‘firsts’ amongst my body of work this year just gone, but I’m still a bit disappointed in myself. I’ve had a whole bunch of random ideas for tracks and entire projects that have never quite materialised beyond the experimentation stage over the last 18-24 months despite being inspired by the prolificity and artistry of my friends and contemporaries. Fear always plays a role, no matter how much one intellectualises its uselessness creatively speaking. I think I also underestimated how much time would be taken up by other things like producing Inhabit’s album or that Formula 1 podcast I did for about a year and half with a good friend of mine…oh, and with the COVID restrictions lifted in the UK, I was able to grow the number of guitar students I was teaching since 2021 and that was time consuming too… Alright, maybe I’m being a little harsh on myself, as per usual, but this year I think I’ve got my project bloat more under control than ever before – I only play in one band, I just finished most of the work for this feature film, and Inhabit and I have got a very manageable schedule in mind for this year.

So what next? Regarding commissions there isn’t anything I can disclose at the moment, but this is where I could mention some of my own ideas I’d like to finish in ’23 in the hope that writing about it creates a sufficient feeling of accountability. A handful of whiteboard scribblings to my immediate right suggest I’ve got some work to do…

  • For years now I’ve done demos for new virtual instruments I buy and the results always sound like fantasy video game music. Sometimes I put them online and sometimes I don’t. One of the reasons I started writing orchestral music was because of the works of composers like Jeremy Soule and Russell Shaw. And I did that mockup of Tarir, The Forgotten City from Guild Wars 2. There’s something nostalgic and introspective about the style that I love. Is this year the year I collate some of those ideas with some new ones in the form of an album and finally get it out of my system?
  • Neverbody have got 2 EPs and a single, so now it’s time for an album. I’ve written a little bit already and have a handful of demos ongoing. The band started in 2018 and, despite having to find a new bassist after Andy decided to step down last year, we’ve been messing about long enough now. Also a vinyl would be nice.
  • I’ve got a plot of the progress for Inhabit’s album – currently there’s 3 tracks in the ‘Mixing’ row, 2 in the ‘Editing’ row, and 1 in line to be recorded. We’re well on our way and the boys seem happy with the work so far. The plan is to be all done and dusted at some point this year.
  • And finally, the longest-running and yet most transitory project of my life – the ambient-solo-works-under-an-alias project. I unironically really like ambient music and have got a pretty big Spotify playlist of stuff that inspires me. I’ve also got a folder stuffed with my own demos and half-recorded ideas, including tracks I actually finished but never released. Occasionally it ends up on my whiteboard for a few months only to be rubbed off again and the barefaced self-indulgence of it means it’s always at the bottom of my list of priorities. I’ve tentatively made a space for it under the fantasy album.

We’ll see if these things end up at the top or the bottom of my 2023 retrospective!

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